|Chairperson Frank Fluckiger|
Political position Right wing
|Membership (October 2016) 92,483|
|Founded 1991; 26 years ago (1991) (as U.S. Taxpayers' Party)
1999 (1999) (as Constitution Party)|
Headquarters 408 West Chestnut Street, Lancaster, Pennsylvania 17603.
Ideology Sanctity of Life Protectionism Originalism Liberty Capitalism Freedom of Religion Social conservatism Paleoconservatism Christian right Fiscal conservatism Property Rights State Sovereignty Non-interventionism National Sovereignty
The Constitution Party is a national political party in the United States. The party was founded in 1991 on the idea that the principles and intents which formed the US Constitution remain relevant in human relations. Founding members included 2016 US Presidential candidate Darrell Castle and former US Office of Economic Opportunity Secretary Howard Phillips. The party platform is based on originalist interpretations of the United States Constitution, and shaped by principles it finds set forth in the Declaration of Independence, Bill of Rights, Constitution, and the Bible.
- Affiliated organizations
- Changes in affiliation
- The Nebraska Party
- North Carolina
- West Virginia
- State disaffiliations
- Mergers and re alignments discussed
- Current platform
- Platform topics
- Electoral College
- Fiscal policy
- Social Security phase out
- Trade and foreign policies
- Immigration policy
- Social policy
- Environmental policy
- Notable members and allies
- Ballot access
There are "7 Guiding Principles" for Constitution Party candidates and platforms. Throughout these principles and accompanying platform items are direct quotes from early US founders and political figures, the US Constitution, the Federalist Papers, and the US Declaration of Independence, among others. The party applies these quotes as evidence of their views of the Constitution, and how the US is founded on Christian principles, while maintaining their support of the No Religious Test Clause.
As of October 2016, the Constitution Party has 18 members elected to city council seats and other municipal offices across the United States. In terms of registered members, the party ranks fifth among national parties in the United States, behind the Republicans, Democrats, Libertarians, and Greens and ahead of the Natural Law Party.
The party was founded as the "U.S. Taxpayers' Party" by Howard Phillips in 1991. Phillips was also the party's candidate in the 1992, 1996 and 2000 presidential elections. The party's name was changed to the Constitution Party in 1999; however, some state affiliate parties are known under different names. The party absorbed the American Independent Party, which was founded for George Wallace's 1968 presidential campaign. The Constitution Party claims to be the "philosophical home" of the Tea Party. The Constitution Party candidate, former congressman Tom Tancredo, came in second place, with 617,030 votes, in the 2010 Colorado gubernatorial election with 36.4% of the vote, ahead of Republican Dan Maes with 11.1%. In 2006, Rick Jore, of the then recently disaffiliated Constitution Party of Montana, was elected to the Montana House of Representatives with 56.2% of the vote, defeating Democrat Jeanne Windham.
The following table displays select Constitution Party state affiliate parties, chapters, and organizations.
All affiliates state in their platforms support for strict adherence to the Declaration of Independence, and the U.S. Constitution. Many also specifically add their home state constitutions to the mix.
Changes in affiliation
In January 2013, Oregon re-affiliated with the national party. The Constitution Party of Montana re-affiliated with the national party in 2011. According to the party website, since November 2012, the Alaskan Independence Party has not been an affiliate.
The Nebraska Party
The Nebraska state affiliate of the Constitution Party is called the "Nebraska Party." The party had candidates for statewide offices placed on ballots from 2002 to 2008.
The stated mission of the Nebraska Party is: "... to restore economic prosperity to all Nebraskans, to restore the Christian Principles of our Forefathers, and to get the Government back in the hands of the people. The Nebraska Party is founded on the principles of the Democrat-Republican Party, which was established in the early 1800s by Thomas Jefferson. The Democrat-Republican Party, now the Nebraska Party, represents the people, the working people (labor), family farmers, small business and, of course, our senior citizens".
The Constitution Party branches in North Carolina and several other states adhere to what they proclaim as the "Seven Essential Core Values." These core values are defined as: the Sanctity of Life, Religious Freedom, Traditional Family, Private Property Rights, Pro-Second Amendment, National Sovereignty, and Anti-Socialism. The party claims to be the state's only truly 100% Pro-Life political party.
The origins of the state party can be traced to October 2000, when founding member Brenda Donnellan and activists from Wood County served as plaintiffs in Phillips v Hechler, civ 6:00-894. This litigation resulted in a November 3, 2000, ruling against then Secretary of State Ken Hechler, forcing him to allow Constitution Party presidential nominee, Howard Phillips, to run as a declared write-in (WI) candidate without paying a filing fee.
The 1964 Constitution Party presidential nominee, Joseph B. Lightburn, was a neighbor of Donnellan's in Jane Lew, where he owned a local general store. Lightburn served as National Committeeman for the Constitution Party of West Virginia, but the original party had long been defunct. There was no connection between the two.
Because the party has not yet attained ballot qualification status, voters registering into it must check the "Other Party" box on the West Virginia voter registration form and write the word "Constitution" on the line. Voter registration status can be checked on at the Secretary of State's website.
Because the Constitution Party is not a major party in the state, its voters are permitted to vote in the primary but must take the initiative to ask for either a Republican or Democratic party ballot in lieu of the standard non-partisan ballot.
In early 2006, Christopher H. Hansen, the gubernatorial candidate of Independent American Party of Nevada (the former Constitution Party state affiliate in Nevada), and candidates in Colorado and Idaho, publicly expressed support for allowing abortions in the cases of rape, incest, and for those performed to save the life of the mother, a contrary view to the official Nevada platform. At the party's April 2008 national convention in Tampa, Florida, the assembly voted not to disaffiliate Nevada, citing that affiliate's official position on the issue and the national party's policy against dictating the internal affairs (such as electing leaders) of any affiliate. They also made it more difficult to introduce a disaffiliation resolution. The Oregon and Montana affiliates voluntarily disaffiliated from the party later that year. The Constitution Party of Nevada was created on October 15, 2013, in response to the controversies.
Mergers and re-alignments discussed
Reports that the Constitution Party discussed a realignment or merger with several third parties, including the Reform Party, Independent American Party, American Independent Party, and the America First Party, have been refuted by some of the purported discussion participants. Nevertheless, all of the aforementioned parties, except for the Reform Party, endorsed Michael Peroutka of the Constitution Party as their presidential candidate in 2004.
The 2016–2020 Platform of the Constitution Party is available for download on the party's website. It has 31 planks.
The 2016 preamble of the Constitution Party platform "gratefully acknowledges the blessing of our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ as Creator, Preserver and Ruler of the Universe and of these United States," and supports the constitutional provision in Article VI, Section 3 that "no religious test shall ever be required as a qualification to any office or public trust under the United States" and calls on all those who love liberty and value their inherent rights to join with them in the pursuit of their goals.
The Constitution Party's website states that it "is the philosophical home of the TEA Party, where candidates who are committed to the same constitutional principles as most TEA Party groups can run for office without opposition from within their own party" and encourages "Constitution Party leadership and candidates to work with local TEA Party and other like-minded groups to re-establish the American Constitutional Republic in their communities and states." The 2016-2020 platform contains no reference to the Tea Party.
The Constitution Party, in the 2016 Platform, supports retaining the Electoral College and is opposed to establishing a National Popular Vote system to elect the president and vice president of the United States.
The Constitution Party in 2012 supported reducing the role of the United States federal government through cutting bureaucratic regulation, reducing spending, and replacing the income tax with a tariff-based revenue system supplemented by excise taxes. The party also takes the position that the "imposition … of Federal income, payroll, and estate taxes … is an unconstitutional Federal assumption of direct taxing authority."
Social Security phase-out
The Constitution Party in 2012 called for phasing out social security. The 2016 platform states: "Social Security is a form of individual welfare not authorized in the Constitution."
Trade and foreign policies
The Constitution Party in 2012 favored a non-interventionist foreign policy. It advocates reduction and eventual elimination of the role the United States plays in multinational and international organizations such as the United Nations, and favors withdrawal of the United States from most treaties, such as NATO, North American Free Trade Agreement (NAFTA), the General Agreement on Tariffs and Trade (GATT), and the World Trade Organization. The party takes mercantilist positions in supporting protectionist policies on international trade.
The party also believes in exercising a tariff system to counteract the United States' increasingly negative balance of trade. The tariff system would levy additional import costs, the amount of which would vary proportionally with how much lower the exporting country's production costs are compared to that of U.S. companies.
The party in 2012 opposed illegal immigration and seeks stricter controls on legal immigration. It demands that the federal government implement an immigration policy disqualifying potential immigrants on grounds of ill health, criminality, low morals, or financial dependence, believing that they would impose an improper burden on the United States. The party has stated a long-term goal of a moratorium on future immigration, with exceptions only for extreme cases of necessity.
The party opposes welfare subsidies and other taxpayer-supported benefits to illegal immigrants. It rejects the practice of bestowing U.S. citizenship on children born to illegal immigrant parents while in this country (jus soli), and rejects any extension of amnesty to illegal immigrants. The Constitution Party calls for the use of the United States military to enforce the strict immigration policy.
The party opposes euthanasia, suicide, and abortion, including in cases of rape and incest.
The party supports the ability of states to administer a death penalty:
Our support of a State's option to impose the death penalty is limited to those who have been convicted of capital crimes. This is consistent with protecting innocent life because the death penalty would only be applied to those who have proven to be a threat to innocent life.
The party opposes same-sex marriage, and believes state and local governments have the right to criminalize "offensive sexual behavior." The party also opposes pornography, believing it to be "a destructive element of society resulting in significant and real emotional, physical, spiritual and financial costs to individuals, families and communities," and distinguishable from the US citizen's "cherished First Amendment right to free speech." While expressing its belief in the individual responsibility of citizens and corporations, the party maintains that government plays a "vital role" in establishing and maintaining the highest level of decency in America's community standards. The party opposes all government sponsorship, involvement in, or promotion of gambling. Citing Article 1 Section 8 and Amendment 10, the party opposes federal anti-drug laws, while conceding that the federal government may have a role in limiting the import of drugs.
The party supports the right to bear arms in accordance with the Second Amendment. The party believes that any attempt to make laws barring the second amendment is unconstitutional. It has taken a stand against the Patriot Act.
The Constitution Party believes that charitable giving is most effective when conducted by private parties. Because the authority to administer charity has not been granted to the government in the Constitution, the party maintains that the government has no business being involved in such endeavors. The party opposes federal restrictions on, or subsidization of, medical treatments.
The party supports English as the official language for all governmental business, opposes bilingual ballots, and insists that those who wish to take part in the electoral process and governance of the U.S. be required to read and comprehend basic English as a precondition of citizenship. The party also opposes the federal Voting Rights Act.
In 2009, the Southern Poverty Law Center described the party as a "'Patriot Group," a category of parties that "advocate or adhere to extreme anti-government doctrines."
The party believes that "it is our responsibility to be prudent, productive, and efficient stewards of God’s natural resources." With respect to global warming, it says that "globalists are using the global warming threat to gain more control via worldwide sustainable development." According to the party, eminent domain is unlawful because "under no circumstances may the federal government take private property, by means of rules and regulations which preclude or substantially reduce the productive use of the property, even with just compensation."
In regards to energy, the party calls attention to "the continuing need of the United States for a sufficient supply of energy for national security and for the immediate adoption of a policy of free market solutions to achieve energy independence for the United States," and calls for the abolition of the Department of Energy.
The party supports the repeal of the Sixteenth Amendment, which allows Congress to tax income, and the Seventeenth Amendment, which requires the direct (popular) election of Senators. The party holds that each state's membership in the Union is voluntary, a stance known as the Compact theory.
Notable members and allies
Pat Buchanan threatened in 1996 to run as the U.S. Taxpayers' Party candidate if Bob Dole chose a pro-choice running mate. Dole chose pro-life Jack Kemp and received Buchanan's endorsement. Buchanan's 2000 Reform Party running mate Ezola B. Foster switched her membership to the Constitution Party in 2002. Buchanan stated on the September 7, 2004 edition of Hardball with Chris Matthews, "There is a chance I would vote for [Michael] Peroutka." However, he later wrote an endorsement of President George W. Bush in the pages of The American Conservative.
U.S. Senator Bob Smith announced his switch from Republican to the U.S. Taxpayers Party in 1999 to seek its 2000 presidential nomination. Smith later charged that anti-New World Order ideologues within the party resisted his candidacy due to his Roman Catholicism. He left the party after one month and continued his campaign as a non-partisan independent but ceased the campaign soon thereafter and returned to the Republican Party to assume a Senate committee chairmanship. In 2008, he began writing editorials on the Constitution Party's web page, fueling speculation that he would seek its presidential nomination again, despite endorsing Rep. Duncan Hunter for the Republican nomination. He requested that his name be withheld from consideration in a March 2008 letter to Constitution Party supporters.
Minuteman Project co-founder Jim Gilchrist ran for Congress with the American Independent Party in 2005, but has since rejoined the Republican Party.
Author and WorldNetDaily columnist Jerome Corsi launched a brief campaign for the 2008 nomination, but in July 2007 decided to return to writing. Former Reagan Administration official and devout Catholic activist Alan Keyes had actively sought the Constitution candidacy after ending a bid for the GOP nomination.
The party has attracted notables in the anti-abortion movement such as Gregory Thompson, Lon Mabon, Paul deParrie, and Missionaries to the Preborn leader Pastor Matthew Trewhella. However, many such notables were involved in the below-mentioned disaffiliation efforts over abortion, and it remains unclear what effect the movement has upon the reorganized rump affiliates.
A 2008 candidate for the Republican nomination, Representative Ron Paul (R-Texas), endorsed several third party candidates shortly after he bowed out of the race. He later endorsed 2008 Constitution Party presidential candidate Chuck Baldwin. The unaffiliated Constitution Party of Montana replaced Baldwin with Paul for president and Michael Peroutka for vice president. Paul requested that Montana remove his name from the ballot, but the Secretary of State of Montana denied his request, stating that the request was sent too late.
In 2010, former Republican Congressman Tom Tancredo ran for governor of Colorado as a Constitutionalist. He received 36.8% of the vote, finishing in second place. Despite losing the election, Tancredo managed to secure major party status for the Constitution Party in Colorado by surpassing the 10% of the gubernatorial election vote needed to qualify as a major party.
In 2006, Rick Jore of Montana became the first Constitution Party candidate elected to a state-level office by winning election to the Montana House of Representatives.
Ronnie Broughton, a past president and current member of the Webster Parish School Board in Minden, Louisiana, is the chairman of his state's Constitution Party and one of the few party members holding public office in Louisiana.
Roy Moore, the chief justice of the Alabama Supreme Court who was notably suspended twice in 2003 and 2016 for refusing to comply with court orders regarding the display of the Ten Commandments and the issuing of same-sex marriage licenses, had been courted by the Constitution Party to run as their candidate in the 2004, 2008, and 2012 presidential elections.
Former Republican Representative Virgil Goode (VA-5) was nominated at the convention in Nashville, Tennessee on April 22, 2012. Goode received 203 votes; 202 were required for a majority. Darrell Castle of Tennessee, national vice chairman of the Constitution Party, came in second with 120 votes. Other candidates who received votes were Robby Wells from North Carolina, former football coach at Savannah State University; Dr. Laurie Roth of Washington state, a radio talk-show host; and Susan Ducey of Kansas, a Registered Nurse.
On April 16, 2016, Darrell Castle secured the presidential nomination for the Constitution Party at a convention attended by delegates from 28 states. He has vowed, if elected, to get the United States out of the United Nations and NATO. "Our borders are worth defending. If we can secure the borders of Korea and Germany, then we can secure the borders of the United States," said Castle. In his nomination acceptance speech, Castle made no reference to the unspecified health reasons that had earlier led him to withdraw his name from consideration. Since accepting the nomination, Castle has given several interviews to media, but his campaign website lists no public campaign appearances.
• The Constitution Party of Montana nominated Ron Paul in 2008 in lieu of Baldwin. Paul received 10,638 votes in Montana and 42,426 nationwide.
The Constitution Party of Idaho nominated Scott Copeland of Texas for President and J.R. Myers of Alaska for Vice President in 2016 in lieu of Castle and his running mate, Scott Bradley. The Castle/Bradley ticket was on the Idaho ballot with no party affiliation. The Copeland/Myers ticket received 2,356 votes in Idaho.
The following is a table of ballot status for the Constitution Party presidential nominee in 2016.
The Constitution Party's website criticizes the dominance of two parties in the US electoral system, saying: "....Without all political ideologies having a place in the free marketplace of ideas, on an equal footing with the top two in power, life is like an ice cream shop that only serves two flavors – customers grow weary and no longer buy. America flourishes when its citizens have real choices with which they identify philosophically. America’s representative system of constitutional governance is doomed to fail if voters continue to be offered only vanilla and chocolate when what they really want is mint chocolate chip or a hot fudge sundae."